A Functional Sonic Screw Driver (Well, Kind Of)

[Jerome Kelty] just finished building this awesome data-logging Sonic Screwdriver with his 6-year-old son [Sam]. The Halloween previous, [Jerome’s] older son had dressed up as the Doctor, which had inspired [Sam] to make his own Sonic Screwdriver — however he declared that his screwdriver needed to actually work!

They sat down together and decided what it needed to be able to do. [Sam] has a pair of hermit crabs, so they thought it would be handy to be able to measure the temperature and the humidity of their habitat. It needed a flashlight for obvious 6-year old reasons, and it had to make the right sound effect when you used it too!

[Jerome’s] first thought was to 3D print it, but was met with a resounding no: “It needs to be metal!”

So out came the sketchpad and they started designing it to be cut on the lathe, using a combination of aluminum, brass and wood.

Sonic Screwdriver GutsMany weekends later [Sam] and his dad finished the body of the screwdriver and started work on the electronics. To keep it simple they used an Arduino Pro Mini 5V with a Sparkfun OpenLog to record all the data — and a handful of sensors of course!


After modifying the body a few times they finally got all the electronic guts to fit inside the screw driver. It features an SD card you can remove to see the OpenLog data, but as a “cool factor” [Jerome] also programmed in the temperature sensor to output to the RGB LED, so little [Sam] can point at things to determine how warm or cold they are.

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Hackaday Links: November 30, 2014

Tired of wiring up the power rails and serial adapter every time you build something on a breadboard? [Jason] has you covered. He put his Breadboard Buddy Pro up on Indiegogo, and it does everything you’d expect it to: power rails, USB to UART bridge, and a 3.3 V regulator. Oh, he’s not using an FTDI chip. Neat.

With Christmas around the corner, a lot of those cheap 3-channel RC helicopters are going to find their way into stockings. They’re cool toys, but if you want to really have fun with them, you’ll need to add a penny.

Here’s a crowdfunding campaign for a very interesting IoT module. It’s a UART to WiFi adapter that has enough free Flash and RAM to run your own code, GPIOs, SPI, and PWM functions. Wait a second. This is just an ESP8266 module. Stay classy, Indiegogo.

Mankind has sent space probes to the surface – and received pictures from – Venus, Mars, the Moon, Titan, asteroids Itokawa and Eros, and comet Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. In a beautiful bit of geological irony, every single one of these celestial bodies looks like a rock quarry in Wales. That quarry is now for sale.

Here’s something exceptionally interesting. It’s a browser plugin that takes a BOM, and puts all the components into a cart. Here’s the cool bit: it does it with multiple retailers. The current retailers supported are Mouser, Digikey, Farnell/Element14, Newark, and RS Components.

Want a death ray? Too bad, because it’s already been sold.

Wiimote Controlled Extermination: Dalek-Style

Dalek Build

Convention-goers have likely strolled past a number of Daleks: the aliens drive around the event space, spouting threats of extermination and occasionally slapping folks with a rotating eyestalk. [James Bruton] has been hard at work building this Wii-remote-controlled Dalek with his fellow hackers at the SoMakeIt Hackerspace (you may remember our write-up from earlier this year).

Most Dalek builds seat a driver inside the body at the helm of a salvaged electric wheelchair, where they plunk around using a joystick control and simmer in an increasingly potent aroma. This version started like most, with a wooden structure from plans sourced at Project Dalek. Inside, however, [James] and his crew have tapped into the wheelchair’s motor controller to feed it a PWM signal from an Arduino Shrimp, which is linked to a Raspi. The Pi receives a Bluetooth signal from a Wiimote, and, through their custom Python script, directs the Dalek with ease.

They’re still working on finishing the Dalek’s body, but they’re using some clever tactics to push onward: using a 3D-printer to solve some of the nuanced styling choices. They’ve uploaded a gallery with additional photos on Facebook, and you can watch them goofing around with their creation (losing their balance and nearly exterminating themselves) in a video after the break.

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Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: Doctor Who


What’s a Sci-Fi contest without entries from the longest running sci-fi TV show, Doctor Who?

Sonic Screwdriver Door Lock

Sonic Screwdriver Lock

Ah yes, the iconic Sonic Screwdriver, able to get the Doctor out of almost any jam — with style.

Started this project over a year ago, [Daniel] figured a Sci-Fi contest was a good enough excuse to get around to finishing it.

Using a Raspberry Pi and a microphone, the lock unlocks when the python script detects a sound signature that matches previously recorded Sonic Screwdriver’s hums — meaning friends with novelty Sonic Screwdrivers can join in the fun too — if he lets them.

When the correct sound sample FFT is detected, the door is unlocked using a transistor that is connected to an electronic door strike. When completed you’ll be able to show off your true Whovian nature, and impress your friends!

Head Tracking Augmented Reality Police Box

Head Tracking TardisInspired by the augmented reality TARDIS that is actually bigger on the inside, [Mike] and his wife are working on creating one that doesn’t need a smart phone to enjoy.

Instead it uses head tracking and an LCD inside the door to create the illusion of a cavernous inside! A head tracking Tardis!

A webcam tracks your head’s position, which then changes the perspective of the interior of the TARDIS on the LCD — we’re getting giddy just thinking about it!



While there isn’t too much information on this project, [th3c4rd] is planning on creating a Doctor Who Voice Modulator which will allow you to sound like your favorite villains with the press of a button!

Using a ring modulator for the effect, [th3c4rd] plans on making his own, since commercial ones will run you upwards of $200!

He’s still looking for a team-mate for the project so if you’re interested in helping out, get in touch!

Still haven’t entered the contest? Don’t worry — there’s still time for you to put an awesome Sci-Fi project together to win some crazy cool prizes!




This Party Jukebox is Bigger on the Inside


In honor of the recent 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, [David Prouty] decided to build a 1/3rd scale replica of the Tardis. He also decided to give it a few extra features on the inside… Introducing the Recycled Tardis Jukebox! 

It was constructed primarily out of recycled cardboard boxes (pizza, FedEx, UHaul, etc) and [David] has done an amazing job painting and detailing it!

Since it’s so big, [David] wanted it to be functional too, so he’s added Bluetooth speakers, sound activated lights, disco balls, and even a fog machine on the inside. It’s all controlled wirelessly by remote, and it’s sure to be a hit at any party he decides to throw.

Stick around for the videos showing it in action — and of course, making our favorite sound VWORRRRRP VWRORRRP VWORRRP!

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tardis alarm

Motion sensors are pretty useful — but they’re just so darn ugly! Well — if you’re a Whovian — maybe this hack is for you. A 3D printed TARDIS Motion Sensor Alarm!

[Malcolm] has a home security system that uses a series of motion sensors to detect movement in the house. When movement is detected an indicator LED turns on, and a wireless signal is sent to the main control system. So after discovering a nice 3D model of the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) on Thingiverse, he decided to see if he could hack one of his motion sensors to fit inside of it instead.

As it turns out, it was as simple as removing the sensor’s external shell, 3D printing a few support pieces inside of the TARDIS, and soldering on a bright blue LED to replace the dinky indicator light. Simple, but effective!

Don’t forget to check out the following video. Allons-y!

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Real Life Sonic Screwdriver for Home Automation


Any Doctor Who fans out there? [Pat] just sent us his project on home automation… using a Sonic Screwdriver!

Ever since he pre-ordered his Raspberry Pi at the beginning of February 2012, he knew he wanted to try his hand at home automation. The easy way was to use X10 outlets, but at $20+ an outlet, it’s not that affordable. Instead, he managed to find a rather cheap system on Amazon — RF controlled outlets. They only cost about $35 for a 5-pack!

It’s a very basic system: five outlets with five buttons on the remote. All he had to do was wire up the Raspberry Pi to simulate the button presses by setting the GPIO pins high, and presto, a simple but effective home automation setup.

This is where it starts to get fun. Unfortunately, unlike a real Time Lord, [Pat] didn’t build his sonic from scratch. Instead, he found a universal remote control — styled after [Smith]’s sonic. Add another RF receiver to the Pi, a web-based interface to extend the range, and bam, you’ve got one geeky, but awesome, home automation setup.

Stick around after the break to see it in action!

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